WHAT IS LIVING – ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE
One might observe an illustration or an actual example of an “odd shaped” building at a Waldorf School or at some other such institution associated with Anthroposophy (The Study of Humanity) and the work of Dr Rudolf Steiner.
The Second Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, the design of which was developed by several architects according to the indications of Dr Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the worldwide Anthroposophical movement, is almost certainly the most widely known (and archetypical) example of living-organic architecture.
In order to appreciate the true nature of living-organic architecture, one must as a starting point embrace, or at least be open to, the existence of non-material or spiritual realms, as living-organic architecture is conceived of as an expression of forces at work that are non-material and not physically measurable. Fortunately, if one closely observes nature and life on earth with an open mind for the least while one is soon led in this direction.
Living-organic architecture, then, whilst respecting the pragmatic basis of all good architectural design, is achieved when the designer “gets out of the way” and allows the forces that are at work in the design of the natural world to guide the hand in bringing to expression the outer forms of the building or the buildings that are being created. The basis of this process is a state of mind of being in service to those realms that we recognise as being of a higher order than ourselves.
One is tempted to compare. In doing so, our limited thinking initially operates in terms of comparing the outward forms of living-organic architecture with the known more rectilinear outward forms of “conventional” architecture, calling the former, perhaps, more “sculptural”. However, the forces that we invite into the formative process when creating living-organic architecture are of a realm without time or space, and Rudolf Steiner indicated to us that forces of movement work behind the formative forces that are themselves at work in shaping this architecture.
“ ‘We enter with reverence into the spirit in order that we may become one with the spirit that is poured out in forms around us, and these forms move because the Spirits of Movement stand behind the Spirits of Form.’ So speaks the idea of the new architecture!” – Rudolf Steiner, “Ways to a New Style in Architecture” Lecture 3, Dornach, 28 June 1914.
All architecture is, of necessity (and due to its “concreteness”) immobile. If living-organic architecture is thought of as the result of forces of movement working through forces of form in turn working through us, then we may think of it as being expressive of gestures that are “frozen in time”. One can appreciate, then, a relationship that exists between living-organic architecture and Eurythmy, the Anthroposophical art of gesture. Living-organic architecture is thus also architecture of captured movement, of gesture.
Dennis Shaw, Cape Town – Epiphany, 2011